Happiness is… Iowa NSF EPSCoR STEM Outreach at the Iowa State Fair

[PHOTO]Biochar at the state fair.
4-Hers guide fair visitors through a biochar experiment.
Iowa NSF EPSCoR helped heighten awareness of energy topics at this year’s Iowa State Fair. The project contributed to several science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities.

On Friday and Saturday, August 16-17, Iowa NSF EPSCoR External Engagement partnered with CenUSA, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Iowa 4-H to create an exhibit featuring the carbon cycle and biorenewables at the Iowa State Fair.  “We thought the exhibit was quite successful, thanks to strategic location of the exhibit booth, interesting and informative displays, hard work of volunteers, and kids’ curiosity,” said exhibit coordinator Jyahao Leong.

The exhibit, located in the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building, included an iPad educational game about carbon, C6 character photo opportunity, carbon cycle posters, and biochar hands-on experiments.  Over 200 students played the educational game on the bank of iPad minis, and even more got their hands dirty with biochar experiments.

[PHOTO]C6 at the fair
Fairgoers get their picture taken with C6 characters.

Learning about Solar Cars and Wind Energy

On Saturday, August 10; Friday, August 16; and Sunday, August 18 Pat Higby, Iowa NSF EPSCoR broader impacts member, was busy providing material for STEM exhibits as well.  On Saturday at the 4-H building she estimates 500 students and 500 adults came through the STEM booth. “They were busy making solar cars and learning about wind energy,” she said.

[PHOTO]Wind energy at the fair
Kids learn about wind energy through hands-on activities.
Lisa Chizek, North Tama 5th and 6th grade science teacher, used Higby’s materials again on Friday at the 4-H building as part of the North Central STEM Hub Festival.  Sunday, the Boy Scouts used Higby’s solar car activity.  Meanwhile, Higby and her students managed the energy bike activity at the University of Northern Iowa booth and wind power activities at the Fabulous Resources for Energy Education (FREE) area.  She estimates 400 students and 200 adults used the materials just on Sunday.

Activities at the fair were held as part of Gov. Terry Branstad’s STEM Advisory Council’s “STEM at the Iowa State Fair” event.